Let’s talk messaging.
During a Pilates session, what is the most important message you aim to communicate to your clients? Or to say it in a different way: What are the key points about Pilates you want your clients to be thinking about during the session (and perhaps outside of the session later on)?
Seriously, take a second and write down a few ideas. I’ll wait…
So, I asked this same question to a few Pilates instructors. They said:
The function of transversus abdominis;
The benefits of core strength;
Understanding what is proper alignment;
The importance of training the smaller muscles;
Stability vs. mobility;
The Basic Principles of Pilates;
Creating balance in the body or balancing out habitual motions.
And so forth. You probably have a few additional ideas to offer. Please share them with us in the comments below.
As a Pilates instructor it’s extremely important to stay on message. To stay on message means to be persistent in getting your key points about Pilates across. It also means promoting the studio you work at and keeping clients coming back for more.
To stay on message means to be persistent in getting your key points about Pilates across.
It’s very easy to go off-message during session. But when you go off-message you have allowed yourself to become distracted from your purpose. More importantly, when you go off-message the client is left to connect the work you’re doing during the session to their daily lives, their personal fitness goals, etc.
I believe as Pilates teachers, our purpose is to teach Pilates. To teach means to help someone to learn or understand. So, during a session I’m not just cueing a bunch of exercises. I’m listening, responding in a conversation aimed at improving how the individual functions, moves, and understand their bodies. This is easy to do if you stay on message.
Don’t dilute your Pilates message by allowing the client to become distracted. It reduces the value and impact of your Pilates message when clients get lost in their personal lives (or in yours), over share, or focus on unrelated small talk.
The best Pilates teachers stay on message. Not just some of the time but almost all of the time.
I believe that you can still be friendly and have strong relationships with client without reducing the effectiveness of your message.
There are more subtle ways you can get pulled from your message. The first example that comes to mind I’ve heard many times over the years. A client asks, “What do you do for fitness?” To which the instructor usually answers something like, “I do elliptical at 24-Hour Fitness a few days per week, I run a couple times per week, and I take yoga once per week.”
The instructor doesn’t realize the client is actually saying, “You look really fit. I want to look like you. What do I need to do to look like you?” The instructor assumes that doing Pilates in implied or obvious. It isn’t. So now based on this interaction, regardless of how great their session was, the client leaves thinking they should do more cardio and maybe try yoga.
Of course I would never suggest you lie. But tell the truth in a way that highlights the benefits you enjoy from Pilates. This very same instructor could have said, “I love Pilates because it does X, Y, and Z for my body. Pilates is my go-to workout which I try to do almost everyday. Then in addition to Pilates, I run, do elliptical, and sometimes take a yoga class.” This way the client leaves thinking about Pilates.
As a small business employee or owner, every minute with a client needs to count. Always be closing sounds like a cheesy, old school sales motto. But the sentiment is essential for success. Every minute you have with a client is an opportunity to educate them about the benefits of Pilates, and a chance for you to help them better understand why they should continue to do Pilates. Use every second as an opportunity by staying on message.
And always-be-closing is how we can compete with the big boys of fitness. The big-box fitness places have sales people selling their messaging. They have entire teams of marketing professionals hammering one message into the minds of prospective clients. Typically Pilates studios do not have the resources for sales and marketing teams. So, this means as the Pilates instructor you’re an integral part of the sales team.
Good news: If you do this properly, you will never have to do a huge sale pitch at the end of a session. If you have stayed on message, by the time the session is over the client will know if they want to continue with more sessions.
Lastly, let’s not forget that this is how word of mouth spreads, literally by word of mouth.
The lesson? Be consistent with your messaging while teaching. Put a stop to allowing yourself to be pulled away from your target message. Constantly refer back to your mental list of message points, both general to Pilates and specific to each individual client.
If you force yourself to stay on message you will present clear and consistent reasons for each client to continue their sessions with you. Your classes and schedule will be more consistently full, and word will spread that you are the teacher who delivers results.
Now, get out there and share your “core” (LOL) message!
And as always, share your thoughts and comments. The more you share the more we all will learn through your experiences.
With my support and love,